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INDIAN STEAM RELICS

A FIREMAN'S PERSPECTIVE

By   Hal  Hughes

Former Fireman  Grade A  Northern  Railway  Delhi  Division  Saharanpur

 

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16 Apr.1853 - 16 Apr.2002

 

FOUR  DAYS  AND  THREE  NIGHTS  IN  THE  LIFE  OF  A  FIREMAN  GRADE A

Dehradun  Express  from Saharanpur to Delhi [Page-1] [Page-2>>] [Page-3>>] [Page-4>>]

Flying Mail  from Delhi to Amritsar [Page-1 >>] [Page-2>>]

STAY TUNED FOR THE FOLLOWING UPCOMING SECTIONS:

Flying Mail from Amritsar to Delhi

Dehradun Express from Delhi to Saharanpur and sign off 

[Click here for more STEAM LINKS]


DEDICATIONS

I wish to dedicate this article to the memory of:

My Grandfather Mr C.P.Hughes: Loco Foreman ( G. F. ) N.W.R. Lahore ( India ) pre 1947

My Father Mr L. P. Hughes ( Polly ): Driver  European Grade IV  N.W.R. Kalka, Quetta, & Saharanpur. ( India ) pre 1947

My Uncle Mr E.A. Hughes: Driver European Grade IV A.M.E.Firozpur N.W.R. ( India ) pre 1947                                          D.M.E. N.W.R. Lahore ( Pakistan ) post 1947

My Uncle Mr R.R.Hughes: Divisional Superintendent of Punjab Police Rawalpindi ( India ) pre 1947

And to all other Locomotive Crew. European, Anglo Indian, & Indian, on the N.W.R. E.P.R. & Northern Railway Saharanpur.


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EM No 937 4-4-2  Atlantic modified at Mougalpura Workshop’s near Lahore, with P.O.H. carried out at Saharanpur. (Photo by Hal Hughes).

Dehradun  Express  from Saharanpur to Delhi  with overnight rest in Delhi:-PAGE-1
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On the morning of the day that we started Link 1 I would get up at about 09:30 have my wash and shave, breakfast and then make my way down to the Loco Shed, have a look at the duty roster just to make sure that there had been no changes to my trip. I would then go to the Stores and draw anything that we were short of i.e. worsted and thin wire which we used for making trimmings or (wicks) that were used in the oil boxes that provided gravity fed lubrication to the various  moving parts of the locomotive and any other things that were needed. I would then pay a visit to the locomotive and as it had just had the fire lit. With the help of the 2nd Fireman we would clean as much of the copper and brass pipe work as we could, also some of the steel work ie reversing gear wheel, regulator , window sills, and  hand rails. Gauge glass mountings, top steam cock handle, bottom water cock handle, (there were two of each,  one pair for each gauge glass) also many brass fittings that were used on the footplate which were kept in a box on the locomotive under lock and key.  Much Brasso and ash with coir pads and elbow grease was used to clean these.

The locomotive’s on these Links had permanent crew and most of the driver’s were Anglo Indians or European’s who had joined the Railway when it was the good old N.W.R. in the days of the British Raj. Also some of the Fireman were Anglo Indian’s or European’s who had joined just after 1947 when it was the E.P.R. but what ever we were Anglo’s European’s or Indian’s we took a pride in our work and our  locomotive’s.

After getting cleaned up I would make my way back to my home which was in the Railway Colony  where I would take a bath before having my lunch. I would  then pack my Kana Box with a fresh change of shirt and trousers and  also make sure that I had a fresh set of pyjama’s for use in the Running Rooms also dry rations ie tea , sugar, rice, atta  flour, in  fact every thing that was needed for cooking a meal away from home. In the Kana box one also had a pair of red and green hand flags and an oil hand lamp which had a red and  a green glass, I’m sure that most of you would know what kind of lamp that was.

After packing the Kana box I would go to bed for a rest and at about 14 .45 the call man would wake me up and get me to sign the call book, also at the same time as the call man came, the chap that we all had to pay to carry our Kana box to the locomotive also came and picked up the Kana box. I would then get into my working gear have a cup of tea and something to eat and get down to the Loco’ Shed pronto.

After signing on for duty in the Shed man’s office I would make my way to the Tool Box store and sign for the tool box, shovels, oil containers, and fire irons, and the keys, to the other built-in box’s on the locomotive.  I would then make sure that the Store Khalasi  knew that he had to deliver all the equipment to the locomotive, to which I would then make my way to.  I would find the 2nd Fireman already giving the footplate a good clean down ie sweeping and damping down to make sure that there was no dust  that the driver could get on his white hankey when he got onto the footplate, Ha! Ha!   Once the tool box etc arrived on the footplate   the 2nd fireman would take the oil containers to the main stores to fill with oil for the steam lubricator and with what we called black oil (it was just lubricating oil), also kerosene for the lamps in our Kana boxes and for the lamps on the front and back of the locomotive. While he was away I would take out all the trimmings and put them in all the holders in the oil boxes, I would then go around the locomotive with a hand hammer and make sure that every nut etc was tight,  looking to make sure that everything was in its place, even opening the smoke box door and checking the petty coat  & blast pipe bolts and nuts to make sure that they were tight. I also took a look at the wash out plugs to make sure that they were not leaking and that nothing was missing any where on the locomotive. When the driver got to the locomotive he would also go around and check everything and God help you if you had missed something.  Once the driver had finished checking and was satisfied that everything was in order I would shut the smoke box door and tighten up the nuts to seal the smoke box door.

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Saharanpur shed, WPs are prepared for morning passenger trains. 31-12-93. (Photo by Terry Case)

Returning to the footplate  I would make the fire, making sure to rock the fire bars and spread the fire evenly over the grate area  removing any clinkers that may be in the fire box, after doing this I would put on a good fire about 20 shovel’s of coal putting about 5 shovel’s full in each back corner of the fire box and the rest spread evenly over  the fire box grate area. The fire grate on an EM was sloped down toward the front of the fire box  i.e. toward the tube plate.  The 2nd fireman  returned with the oil and stores for the trip, I would then fill the steam lubricator with oil and set it up to deliver the right amount of drops per minute to the various area’s of the locomotive that were lubricated under steam pressure. Next I would fix in place the gauge glass protectors and other brass fittings that we used for decoration  and not forgetting the electric light bulbs one behind the lubricator, one by the side of each gauge glass, one in the cab light, and one in a holder on the back of the cab so it provided light on the tender. The 2nd fireman by now would have filled up all the oil box’s and also would have dusted down everything  again and I would ask the Shed Shunter to assist as the locomotive’s tender  was positioned  under the water column. The 2nd fireman would go up on the tender and fill up the  tank ,  I would by then have made a pot of tea and it would be keeping warm on the shelf above the fire box door .

 Now we would be joined by the driver  who would check both steam injectors to make sure that they were in working order and not wasting water, he would also glance at the pressure gauge to make sure that boiler pressure was at 180psi and that the water level in the gauge glass’s  were an inch below the top nut. He would then call the Fitter on duty and ask him to put a test plate on the front and then the back vacuum pipe and check the vacuum brake pressure, having satisfied himself he would say to me or the 2nd fireman pour the tea .  With that the time being 16:40   he would give a blast on the whistle  one of us the firemen would  have a look around and make sure that no one was under the locomotive and having satisfied ourselves the locomotive would leave the shed to make its way across the yard picking up a points man on the way  and finally making our way to a siding to await the arrival of 20 dn the Dehradun Express from Dehradun.


 

Dehradun  Express  from Saharanpur to Delhi [Page-1] [Page-2>>] [Page-3>>] [Page-4>>]

Flying Mail  from Delhi to Amritsar [Page-1 >>] [Page-2>>]

STAY TUNED FOR THE FOLLOWING UPCOMING SECTIONS:

Flying Mail from Amritsar to Delhi

Dehradun Express from Delhi to Saharanpur and sign off 

[Click here for more STEAM LINKS]

Comments? Questions? E-mail me at:     hal.hughes1@tiscali.co.uk


Last Updated: 30/05/02 Page spun by S.Shankar with Microsoft FrontPage 98